Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Monthnotes for September 2017

So, an eventful September as predicted.

The biggest news, both work-related and personal, from the last few weeks is that my Bandcamp Daily feature on Ireland’s heavy underground was published.

It’s my highest-profile writing project to date, and only happened because I decided I had nothing to lose by sending the pitch. I’m not exactly brimming with self-belief (the term ‘imposter syndrome’ was created for people like me) but this has been a big boost of confidence.

Immense thanks to Jes Skolnik and the Bandcamp team for the commission from my email blathering, and to my friend John Mulvaney for the brain-picking on his documentary series that serves as the hook for the whole thing. I hope it gets more eyes on his project, and more ears on the bands included.

As for what’s next: I’m working on another pitch, so we’ll see what happens.

Listening this month was a bit sparse for no discernible reason. I’ve got a backlog of podcasts I’ll probably skip for the most part to stay current; only the timeless ones will get attention, and I’m bound to need a podcast binge at some point.

However, the first week of September was all about Savage Young Dü, the new Hüsker Dü box set from Numero Group compiling never-before-heard demos and live recordings from the earliest days of the band with a remaster of their first studio album. This was just days before the news of Grant Hart’s death, so eerily prescient and all that.

The new set is a tribute to a pioneering band, but also one of the true undersung musicians of the rock era — even if he wasn’t one for nostalgia. It’s not one to convert anybody who isn’t already a fan, either, as the bulk of the material is quite rough around the edges, despite whatever clean-up work the Numero team did. But I’m a fan, and I can’t get enough of it. So there. All I need now is the physical set whenever it’s posted here from Chicago within the next few weeks.

Right at the end of the month, I went to my first gig in months: Il Sogno Del Marinaio (with Mike Watt on bass) supporting Shellac at the Tivoli, or rather the nightclub next door. Both excellent as one would expect from musicians of their calibre, even if Shellac’s set was fairly predicable (if you saw their previous Dublin gig, you didn’t miss anything). Thank goodness for an early show (it wrapped up shortly after I darted out for a bus before 10pm) though I did end up missing the first 15 minutes of Watt and friends’ set (why does the only Dublin gig that starts on time happen when I’m running late?).

On to TV, which for Bee and me is usually something on YouTube or whatever’s worth streaming on Netflix. (Or BBC iPlayer, but not since they’ve made it such a pain for non-UK residents to watch their shows on catch-up. So we’ve been going without our weekly Only Connect and University Challenge fix. At least we can watch GBBO on All 4.)

This month we finished watching Glow (or GLOW, as the makers insist) after stalling with the first three episodes a few months ago. That’s becoming a pattern; we watch a few, then stop and move onto something else, then have a hard time getting back to what we were doing in the first place. In this case anyway it was worth going back to enjoy a story that gets wrestling as a cultural entity and as a weird carny subculture within itself, but doesn’t make it the focus of the story over the women involved. Granted, some characters are drawn better than others, but I’m hopeful that leaves space for new subplots going forward, so roll on season two.

Later, I tweet-stormed about the new Star Trek show, which we postponed watching for a few days as Bee’s parents were visiting. Then we watched it and were glad we never got our hopes up, because whatever it is, is isn’t Star Trek. Maybe episode three takes things in a better direction, but I’m not particularly enthused to see it right now.

My movie-watching average was way down in September; I’ll post my Letterboxd reviews from the month shortly. I did a little better with reading material, as I finished the remaining unread tales in Ted Chiang’s Stories Of Your Life over a couple of afternoons:

Dipped into this on and off over the last year; a deceptively dense collection that darts between Biblical era fantasy, steampunk-tinged gnosticism and more contemporary speculative fiction, strung together on the common threads of the mind-body problem, free will versus determinism, and faith not necessarily of the spiritual kind.

Healthwise, the upward trend in my weight (not alarming, but enough) has not gone unnoticed, and that’s completely down to my diminished discipline. If I can feel it when I put on my clothes, that’s the real metric. More walking and cycling, less snacking: that’s what’s required. (It’s going to be a struggle now that Aldi and Lidl are stocking lebkuchen again, but sacrifices must be made.)

I’ve restarted keeping an eye on my steps, too, though it’s a little frustrating that the iOS Health app only displays monthly averages, and not total steps walked. But I guess if I get my average up, that works out the same. My joints will thank me for it regardless.